The City of the Future

I kinda have my doubts this project will actually happen. But I think it is a neat idea.

I don’t have 400 billion dollars, but I did like playing SimCity. And I would daydream about building my own city from scratch.

I would make my city car free. Have extensive subway system. Grey water. solar panels everywhere. I don’t know where this guy is gonna get water for 5 million people in a desert.

Why the desert? It’s only gonna get hotter. ISTM like it would be wiser to find some unoccupied land in Maine or something.

Snippets from the article:

I would certainly hope the Appalachian region is the only one being seriously considered. Jeez, did this guy learn nothing from the crap going on in the West right now?

And I would like a pony made of diamonds. This Marc Lore guy sounds like the Elizabeth Holmes of urban planning.

Ultimately, this guy’s project will be doomed by a simple factor:


Humans are irrational, avaricious, and pugnacious creatures. As long as humans exist, there can be cities, but never utopias.

less environmental problems /rules in a wasteland I live in a desert “city” and the main attraction for builders here was until the mid/late 80s we almost had no zoning laws … .in fact we still dont really …

which is why for the longest time a neighbor hood was built around the biggest new car lot in town complete with all the necessary shops for one … …

These two quotes from the article are not necessarily contradictory:

So by the time the city is complete, Appalachia might be desert, verifying both sentences.

How many industries is he planning on bringing in? What kinds of work will the people do, or will they just walk around in the sunshine?

This sounds a lot like what Walt Disney was aiming at when he imagined his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT).

At least he had better sense than to plant it in the middle of a desert.

Hasn’t he ever heard of the Arcosanti?

We live in the area and used to buy bread from them when we thought about it. While it mostly houses true believers, it hasn’t expanded in years and only survives as some sort of eco-tourist destination.

(I like the place. Now that I’m all gimpy and stuff, I stopped visiting because of all the stairs, but some of the bells were amazing.)

Reminds me of another promising but ultimately failed urban utopia, the Google/Alphabet Sidewalk Labs project in Toronto. I actually had high hopes for that one.

Sometimes they’ll ride scooters.

The Saudis are planning on their 110 mile long linear city costing just $100-200 billion, but I suppose both securing land rights and construction will be more pricey in the US.

Yes! It has a monorail!

I bet that Lore’s proposed reality show will happen first.

BTW, Is it just coincidence that he’s named after the evil twin?

Where’s he going to get 5 million people, period? That’s like Chicago and Houston combined and would make it the second largest city in the USA after New York.

It kind of sounds like the same dumb “arcology” concept someone linked to upthread. People don’t want to live in some big glass people-hive. The fundamental challenge with all planned cities is that it is impossible to predict what future demand will look like. Cities are located where they are located because they serve a particular purpose (transportation hub, industry center, access to resources, etc). And they evolve the way they do in order to meet the wants and needs of the people living in them.

Plenty of examples of abandoned planned “ghost cities” around the world.

I think deserts are historically and culturally considered wastelands, that with the right touch of human engineering and hubris, can be turned into a paradise, where people want to live, land is cheap, and crops grow huge abundances in the sunshine. Heck, look at Phoenix!

Not to mention all of the passive solar power available!

I bought a cup of coffee at the Arcosanti once and learned that they save the used wood coffee stirrers to burn for heat in the winter. Apparently their passive heat design doesn’t work well on cloudy days.

Here’s an article about another ‘ideal community’.

Some wealthy Silicon Valley guys tried to create their libertarian wet dream - a cruise ship that would be a mini-state, unconnected with any government and dealing only in cryptocurrencies.

Their libertarian fantasy met the real world.

Now the same guys are busy working on an offshore ‘pod community’.

Romundt compared the SeaPods to the architecture in The Jetsons, the 60s cartoon where the characters lived in glassy orbs in the sky. “It’s like that,” he told me, “but on water.”

As the author of the article says, “I felt a boringly pragmatic urge to ask Romundt what happened if, once afloat, you needed to buy a pint of milk.”


A few possible positives for building in a desert: The land is likely cheap and can be acquired in large quantities since there have historically been few uses for desert land. The downsides of deserts, heat and low water, can be managed effectively for a new city. Hot dry deserts have lots of reliable solar power, and solar power generation aligns well with air conditioning load, so cooling the city is feasible. Water usage can be very limited with well-engineered reclamation systems, and people in a city use very little water compared to agriculture and many industries. The new city will simply not focus on agriculture or water-intensive industries.

I also have my doubts about this, but I like the idea of an ambitious project like this.

Since there is no water for people in the west right this moment, and we’re in the middle of an epic aridification, and the rivers are suffering from a lack of snow melt in the mountains, and groundwater is being pumped out of dying aquifers, where exactly would you site a city larger than two Las Vegases, a city with two artificial lakes on its doorstep yet is panicking already?

Heck, where will the five million people find work in businesses that don’t use water? Where will the food come from if there is no nearby agriculture? How many billions would the state have to invest to create infrastructure to support it? How much area would have to be covered to provide solar power for a city of five million?

This proposal, like the hundreds of other proposals that were seemingly put together by five-year-olds at Build-a-City, is so absolutely insane that it makes me wonder what he’s trying to hide. It’s like the murderer in a mystery pointing a finger at an innocent suspect to take the suspicion off of him.

I, too, am skeptical that this is realistic or will ever happen. But in all fairness, the 5 million population goal has to be considered in the context of being a 40-year goal, not an immediate or short-term one. CNN fails to mention this due to the usual bad reporting. The intent is for the city to start out small, and maybe reach a population of up to one million in 10 to 20 years.

From the CNN article:

The first phase of construction, which would accommodate 50,000 residents across 1,500 acres, comes with an estimated cost of $25 billion. The whole project would be expected to exceed $400 billion, with the city reaching its target population of 5 million within 40 years.

China probably has achieved this goal, but no others to my knowledge. And what China can do cannot be done in the U.S. That’s the part of the project that I’m protesting most about.

Also from the CNN article:

Another image depicts a proposed skyscraper, dubbed Equitism Tower, which is described as “a beacon for the city.” The building features elevated water storage, aeroponic farms and an energy-producing photovoltaic roof that allow it to “share and distribute all it produces.”

First build one such building. See what happens over a decade. Then build another.

Every other reported word of the project is equal nonsense.